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This Day In Market History: Supreme Court Rules Against Curt Flood In Landmark Sports Free Agency Case

Wayne Duggan

Each day, Benzinga takes a look back at a notable market-related moment that occurred on this date.

What Happened?

On this day 46 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Major League Baseball player Curt Flood in a landmark case dealing with professional athlete free agency.

Where The Market Was

The Dow closed at 941.83. The S&P 500 traded at around 108.11. Today, the Dow is trading at 24,644.21 and the S&P 500 is trading at 2,752.95.

What Else Was Going On In The World?

In 1972, 11 athletes from Israel were murdered by an Arab gunman at the Munich Olympics. Five White House operatives were arrested for burglary in Washington as part of what would become known as the Watergate Scandal. The average cost of a new house was $27,550.

Flood Denied Free Agency

Curt Flood was the first MLB player to challenge professional baseball contracts. In 1969, Flood risked his baseball career in an effort to get a court ruling allowing him to become a free agent and choose the team for which he would play.

Unfortunately for Flood, the Supreme Court ruled that baseball was a sport, not a business, and therefore MLB teams weren't subject to antitrust regulations.

After Flood lost his case in 1972, he was shunned by MLB and never played again. Flood is seen as a pioneer for player rights, however. An arbitrator ruled in favor of MLB players in a similar free agency case just three years later, opening the door for players to negotiate contracts via free agency in all major professional sports leagues to this day.

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